Lovers and players

Dating more than one person at once is gaining respect as a legitimate type of relationship.

Polyamory is also defined as “having many loves” and “responsible non-monogamy.” The relationship began to emerge out of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

In a polyamorous relationship, all of the parties involved are well-known to one another and are willing to share each other. Polyamorous relationships may be sexual, but are not always.

Instead, it’s about intimacy, said Mike Keener, a doctorate student in educational psychology who will be discussing polyamory’s legitimacy Tuesday at noon in the Women’s Resource Center (Union Room 293).

“Those who choose this would say that monogamy is too difficult, some would say that it’s just not in their nature-that having multiple relationships are just who they are,” Keener said.

Junior Zach Wilde said he agreed that there are some people who are not cut out for monogamy.

“There’s always one person,” he said.

Wilde said he had a friend who “just really liked girls” and ended up dating multiple girls at once.

Wilde added that dating multiple people made his friend’s life harder because there was a lot of drama, especially jealousy.

“He’s gotten into a lot of trouble with it,” he said.

Tina Jovic, a second-year bio-engineer, said she thought that merely dating more than one person at a time was harmless.

“It’s good to experience, but to a certain point. You have to have limits,” she said.

Jovic clarified that as soon as emotions get involved, multi-dating becomes more like backstabbing.

“As soon as you start making out, I think it’s weird to be doing that with more than one person,” she said.

Jovic added that she had a female friend who dated two guys at once. Her friend went out to a club and both of the guys were there.

Though neither guy found out about the other, Jovic’s friend still ended up breaking off both relationships.

“It was just too stressful for her, keeping everything straight…lying way too much,” Jovic said.

Those kinds of relationships caused trouble and failed because they weren’t true polyamorous relationships, read one Web site, Polyamory.org.

According to the site, multi-dating is wrong and fails because of the lying and deception to which many people resort. The site goes on to say that polyamory is not cheating because everyone is aware of what is going on.

“Everybody has to know that this is what they want, and if not they’re going to go separate ways,” Keener said.

One polyamorous dater, Stef, wrote on Polyamorous.org that the key to this type of relationship is openness.

“That is, having multiple relationships with the knowledge and consent of your partner(s) rather than by deceit,” she said. “A great many people have secret affairs while they’re in a supposedly monogamous relationship. I think those people might have the potential to be polyamorous, but I do not think they are practicing polyamory.”

In other words, openness is the keystone to success in a polyamorous relationship.

Keener said this sincerity aspect is very appealing.

“The people that choose this I think in general would say they had difficulties with honesty in monogamous relationships and that this was a way to bring honesty in to what would otherwise be just hiding and playing around,” he said.

Other than constantly striving for honesty, people in polyamorous relationships must often cope with jealousy.

“[Jealousy] is a pretty typical issue,” Keener said, adding that through communication and personal growth, those in polyamorous relationships can curb jealousy.

“Jealousy gets moderated…over time if they can successfully explore these issues [and] deal with their own issues, but it still comes up,” he said.

Keener added that some people present themselves “as having no jealousy in living this lifestyle. But I’d say that’s definitely a minority. A few present themselves that way, but most people deal with these issues on a regular basis.”

Keener wrote his master’s thesis on polyamory in Salt Lake City and found that the multiple-partner relationships had similarities to monogamous relationships.

“It’s the same type of issues that you work with in a monogamous type of relationship, which are going to be like communication, honesty and jealousy,” he said. “There are going to be additional issues, but a lot of the issues are the same. They overlap.”

Keener said that outside of the overlap, polyamorous people also cope with an added layer of complexity.

“It is more complicated,” he said. “Someone in a polyamorous relationship needs to be able to deal with [it]. If they don’t have the strength or maturity to do that, then it’s just going to multiply the same kind of problems in a monogamous relationship.”

Keener warned that the seminar is “not promoting any particular lifestyle, not polyamory over monogamy, for example. Just that there are different lifestyles and acceptance of them.”

He added that he hopes students will walk away with “an open-minded awareness of diversity-that there’s other stuff going on.”

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“What is Polyamory?”Tuesday, Feb. 1Noon to 1 p.m.Women’s Resource Center,Union Room 293